Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Grace?

Today I was driving along the interstate. It was a beautiful sunny summer day and I hit some construction. There was a pick up pulling a pop up camper and it was swerving a bit. I decided to pass it and and get in front of it, as it made me a bit nervous. As I did, I saw the police officer off to the side on ramp pointing his speed gun right at me. I looked down and sure enough, I was doing 75 in a 65. I know I was done for. A disclaimer if you will. I typically do not really speed. I keep it pretty close to where I am supposed  to be, which irritates some people who follow me on a trip.

I watched as the police officer got in his car and pulled up behind me pretty quickly. He took a while to just drive behind me. I thought maybe he was going to run my plates and see if there were any warrants out for my arrest. Suddenly his lights came on and I realized he was just waiting fro a wider highway shoulder. He told me he clocked me at 77. Took my license and said he would be right back.

A few minutes later he walked back up to my window and said, "I see you have a pretty clean driving record so I am only going to give you a written warning. If I had ticketed you it would've been $00 because it is a work zone. Be careful as you pull out and have a safe day." I thanked him, took a huge sigh of relief and got back on my way.

I started to think about that moment for a while, as I was waiting for my heart rate to go down. He could have given me that ticket and it would have been completely fair. I deserved it, even if it was because I was nervous about the guy in front of me. I was breaking the law. I was speeding. It was in a construction area. I should have gotten a ticket. For some reason, I did not. That police officer chose to not give me a ticket. Typically when they are parked in a construction zone, they are giving out tickets, not giving grace. Today, he gave me grace. I have only had 2 tickets in my life. The last one was about 10 years ago.

I am very thankful for that grace. I looked up grace in Webster's dictionary and it said, "Pronunciation: \ˈgrās\ Function: noun
1 a : unmerited divine assistance given humans for their regeneration or sanctification b : a virtue coming from God c : a state of sanctification enjoyed through divine grace
2 a : approval, favor s> b archaic : mercy, pardon c : a special favor : privilege d : disposition to or an act or instance of kindness, courtesy, or clemency e : a temporary exemption : reprieve" Thefreedictionary.com defines it as, "A favor rendered by one who need not do so."

I was given this act of kindness, this favor done by someone who did not need to do it. Allow me to get a little "spiritual"for a moment. The Bible is pretty clear that because of sin none of us deserves forgiveness or heaven. In the book of Romans (found in the Bible) it says, "for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God," which basically means that we can't earn our way into heaven. We don't deserve it. Also in Romans it says, "For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord." Essentially what it is saying is that the payment (wage) for our sin (the things that we do that are wrong or the things we don't do that we should) is death (forever apart from God), BUT the gift (undeserved, free and given) of God is eternal life (forever, after we leave this earth) in Christ Jesus our Lord.

You may have heard of the Bible verse that is placed up in the end zones of many NFL games "John 3:16." That verse says, "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son,[f] that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life." This is talking about how Jesus gave his life for us by dying on a cross (the method of "execution" in that day that was given to criminals) and gave us the opportunity to receive forgiveness for our sins. The Bible goes on to say in the next verse,  "17For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him." Jesus was not here to point out all the things we do wrong. He wants to save us from that life. If you have a Bible, open up to Romans chapter 6 and give it a read. It is pretty amazing. The whole book of Romans is awesome for that matter. 

After you read that, read Psalm 139. This talks about how much God loves us and knows us. If he knows us so well that he knows what our thoughts are you would think he would never be willing to forgive us. We can be pretty ugly with our thoughts. Yet he will forgive us and does! Now check this last thing in the Bible in the book of John, chapter 10. "9That if you confess with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord," and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved."

It's pretty simple. If you have never prayed a prayer like this and you want to, you can do it right now. You do not need to "clean up" before you do so. God stands waiting to forgive you. He wants to. All you have to do is confess your sin to him. OK, one more verse. 1 John 1:9 says, "9If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness." That's it. Confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord, believe in your heart, confess your sin. God will help you with all the other stuff later. There is nothing like forgiveness. There is nothing like grace.

When I was 8 years old, I prayed a prayer similar to this, "Jesus, I know you died on the cross to pay for my sins. I know I have done things wrong. I know that you are alive today and want to forgive my sins. Today I confess that sin and want to start a life long relationship with you. Thank you for the free gift of forgiveness and eternal life in heaven after I leave this earth."

You can pray that same prayer right now if you want. I would love to continue to dialogue with you about this if you want. Feel free to comment below or send me an email or FaceBook me.

Wow, I did not intend this post to be so long when I started it and had no idea where it was going to go, quite honestly. What I do know is that Jesus has changed my life and I want others to know it. I want others to find what I have found. My life isn't perfect. Everything doesn't always work out in my favor. My Red Sox don't always win the World Series just because I "pray" for them to every year. I don't always make the best choices. What I do know, is that I have a God that walks besides me through everything I go through. I have a God who will ALWAYS forgive me. Those truths make me continue to move forward in life.


I wonder, are you someone who gives grace? When was the last time you received grace from someone? I would love to hear about it. Share in the comment section.

5 comments:

Bex said...

Whoa. Whoa. Whoa. Whoa. Look at you! This post is fantastic- you are a TRUE pastor! I love it. Preach it brother! So glad you didn't get a ticket. My husband is the chief grace-giver in my life, along with my parents, who have put up with so much. On family vacations grace must reign or it's a world of hurt. My theme for this vacation is "Blessing my Family", not just hanging out with the, not just tolerating them, but blessing them.

erik w/a "k" said...

Thaqnx Bex! I appreciate it. Love your family grace giving! So important.

Paula Hoffart said...

i rarely speed too! and it really annoys my sisters the most. 5 over is the fastest ill ever go.

well then this past weekend i was coming home from seattle where i just said bye to my baby sister who is on a huge navy boat and i get scared for her sometimes. im emotional and tired and just want to get home and all of a sudden there's a cop flashing his lights behind me...

i didnt even know how fast i was going.

and ive never gotten a ticket in my whole life - only been pulled over once.

i was shaking.

87 in a 75. and he was not happy.

10-15 minutes later after i couldn't find my registration, he gives me a ticket for $113 and said he marked it down for me so it wouldn't be too expensive.

what do you call that? its not as good as grace. and to me (mrs. always-follow-the-rules-or-else) it felt like the worst punishment ever.

maybe its mercy? like kinda letting me off?

i just wrote you a blog within your comments, lol. i guess i miss you and have a lot to share!

erik w/a "k" said...

Paula, great blog post! Thanx! Yeah, that may be mercy. I have a story about some MAJOR mercy I will have to tell you sometime about my second ticket.

Chrystal said...

man, i hope all i ever get pulled over in is a work zone if it's only "$oo" that's AWESOME

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